Committee forms to advocate for VISD's bond election

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Sept. 26, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.
Updated Sept. 27, 2017 at 8:27 a.m.

For the first time in 44 years, Victoria Symphony officials had to cancel events because of a natural disaster, said Michelle Hall, executive director.

"When something like this happens, it impacts all the community partners that use the facility," Hall said.

Symphonic Spectacular and Master Series 2 - Romantic Masters were the two performances canceled because the Victoria Fine Arts Center sustained hurricane damage.

The Master Series has been rescheduled to Nov. 4. Officials are working on the possibility of rescheduling Symphonic Spectacular.

The Fine Arts Center sustained significant damage and is expected to reopen about Nov. 1, VISD officials said. But the district has to pay a 2 percent deductible on the repair cost.

"There's a $240,000 bill we have right there to fix the Fine Arts Center that has to come out of our pocket," said Superintendent Robert Jaklich.

Every building in the Victoria school district sustained damage, he said.

The proposed $141.2 million Victoria school district bond would aid officials as they recover from the hurricane.

The Committee for Victoria's Future, a pro-school bond group, is demonstrating how the community connects to the school system.

The group's website and campaign were unveiled Tuesday morning by William Blanchard, committee chairman, at the Victoria Economic Development Corp. Partnership Meeting.

The committee, consisting of about 25 members, has a goal to raise funds to support educating the community to pass the bond issue, Blanchard said.

Melvin Lack is committee co-chairman, and Paul Holm is treasurer.

"Future-minded" community and business members are who the group is seeking, Blanchard said.

The bond is well-designed, although there are far more needs that could have been addressed, he said.

"The timing is impeccable," he said. "The board can refine their research and put the dollars where it's needed."

Hurricane damage costs are being covered by district reserve funds, said Shawna Currie, district spokeswoman.

In October, school board members will consider a resolution that will allow money from specific bond projects to cover overlaping hurricane repair costs. The resolution allows that bond money to be put back into the district reserve funds.

"In the areas that our bond covers, we have an opportunity to stick with that and then get reimbursement," Jaklich said.

However, if the bond does not pass, the district takes on an additional financial burden where money would have to be taken from other places, Jaklich said.

Previous capital improvement projects have improved campuses to their current level, said Lou Svetlik, president of the district's board of trustees.

"Someone along the line dug deep into their pockets and provided what we currently have," Svetlik said. "We have an opportunity now to look forward to the future and do the same."

Local businesses will benefit from the bond's approval, he said.

"Starting with the contractors of our local community that will be allowed to bid and take part in this to the fullest extent possible," he said. "Dollars will be put back into our community."

The impact to the tax rate will not be applied until the 2018-2019 year because the bond election is in November and the sale of the bonds is in January, Svetlik said.

"We will have some respite here in recovery from the storm," he said.

Passing the bond depends on voters, Svetlik said.

"We want you to know as much about it as possible," he said. "Being on the school board, it's my job to listen to the community."

Blanchard said he encourages people to vote.

"I'm not in favor of higher taxes for the sake of taxes, but I'm more than willing for a good reason," he said.



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